What Does the ‘Oola’ Company Name Mean? October 16, 2016 – Posted in: Team Thoughts – Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In Arabic, Oola means ‘the first.’ We, like our customers, are pioneers. Here’s the story of how our company came to be called Oola.

We founded Oola to solve our own problem. The idea of Oola began over a series of months when two of our co-founders, Haya Al Ghanim and Amina Ahmadi, were training for a Mount Kilimanjaro hike. The two are both from Qatar and wear head covers and modest activewear, but had a difficult time finding modest, loose-fitting activewear and athletic hijabs for outdoors training.

Being the pioneers they are, along with co-founder and fashion designer Lilian Gabriel Barbosa, the ladies began sketching activewear ideas, and the foundation of Oola was born.

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The name ‘Oola’ didn’t come around until lots of thinking and testing had gone down! The team knew, though, that we were creating a pioneering brand catering to active women who prefer loose-fitting, modest sportswear. We, too, wanted to highlight our belief that every woman is a pioneer in her life, in facing her own challenges and achieving her own balance.


Choosing Oola

Oola The Pioneer in You

We collaborated with award-winning, Lebanon-based design studio Polypod to develop the brand behind our activewear line. The name ‘Oola’ was the ultimate winner among tens of options presented to us by Polypod’s team. The conversation began with our team’s intent to find the name that represents our mission and values. Knowing that our name would be the first touchpoint with our community, it was a very important discussion for us.

When we heard ‘Oola’ as an option, it immediately sounded like it was our name. It struck a chord.

“To us, creating Oola was a result of challenging our own limits and trying to find balance and wellness in our lives,” says co-founder and product innovator Amina Ahmadi. “Through each of our own journeys, we realized that every woman goes through her own challenges, different circumstances, priorities and responsibilities… every woman makes her choices and thrives to reach her goals and a balance that helps her attain her goals.”

Oola in Arabic

‘Oola’ in Arabic means ‘the first.’
“In Arabic, the word ‘Oola’ literally means ‘the first,” in the feminine. It is an adjective, and is usually pronounced ‘al-oola.’ We loved the connotation of a ‘pioneer’ in this word,” says Amina. “We strongly believe that every woman is a pioneer, is ‘an oola.'” We can see that sometimes, our own intimidations or fears make us believe less in the pioneer in us, so we hope that Oola will be this drive and energy that reminds us all that we can be and are pioneers. We can achieve everything we set our minds to, and in doing so, inspire our families and communities.”

Our team did a lot of testing with friends and colleagues and used the name while we were walking or running sometimes to see how it felt and sounded. Even our non-Arabic-speaking co-founder Lilian Gabriel Barbosa fell in love with it immediately. “When Amina and Haya told me the meaning, it felt right to me,” Lilian says. “I loved the way it sounded, and it is a word people can easily pronounce. Plus, I instantly started thinking of the many ways we could play around with the double ‘Os’ in the word ‘Oola’ when creating our logo.”

In the end, it was the perfect match for our mission and the community we hope to build.


Designing a Logo for Oola

Oola-Logo-2015-09-26Designing a logo to match a word and concept is a beautiful experience. Design firm Polypod was exceptionally helpful in bringing our vision to life.

Oola’s logo, as pictured to the right, is designed to portray motion and lightness through the dynamic and asymmetrical layering of the double ‘O.’ The two Os are positioned in an ascending fashion to reinforce the unbound and uncompromising nature of Oola. Meanwhile, the intersection of the Os illustrates collaboration and teamwork. These are concepts that were pulled out by the Polypod team in discussions with Oola’s co-founders.

“The Oola brand conveys accessibility, authenticity, and the breaking of boundaries, with a positive affirmation of fitness options for everyone,” says Polypod Founding Principal Hani Asfour, an architect by trade. “When it came time to develop the color palette, we called Oola’s color fiery orange, which combines Oola’s dynamism and warmth. The color was carefully chosen to reflect those values after several iterations with Haya and Amina on different shades of reds and oranges to find the right expression for the rising Os.”

“We also are very proud of being part of the journey that this team has started,” says Hani. “We are very confident Oola will empower and enable a healthier society, living the brand values by being a pioneer and leader in a much needed market.”


All in the Name of a Mission

“Our goal is to grow the brand to be the first option women think of for loose-fitting activewear and sports hijabs,” says co-founder and CEO Haya Al Ghanim. “We love the outdoors. We want to be comfortable while we exercise. And we want our friends to be able to join, too. Plus, I believe when women experience outdoor activities, they’re more likely to influence and encourage their children to be active. In founding Oola, we can be part of creating a healthy lifestyle for the next generation.”

Through its empowering message, Arabic origins, and design, Oola hopes to enable the pioneer in all of us.